The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, a.k.a. Rhode Island abounds with large bays and inlets that make up about 14 percent of its total area. Along with very sound state policies, this phenomenon has created a number of diverse natural habitats ideal for hunting and outdoor activities. Below, we paint a very comprehensive picture about everything that a hunter will need to know before embarking on a hunting trip in Rhode Island:
Hunting License in Rhode Island
It is mandatory for hunters who intend hunting, chasing, acquiring or killing any form of game animal in Rhode Island to have a valid hunting license on them. The license must be a paper copy, signed and in their possession every time the hunter is hunting.
Hunting license in Rhode Island can be grouped into two: residential hunting license and non-residential hunting license.
Resident Hunting License
- The Rhode Island law states that a person will be regarded as a resident if he or she has resided legally in the state for at least 6 or more consecutive months prior to applying for the hunting license.
- Residency status can be proved by furnishing the following: a valid Rhode Island driver’s license and Social Security number or a Rhode Island State Identification card.
Any persons other than the above are regarded as nonresidents.
Nonresident Hunting License in Rhode Island
- Nonresidents are regarded as people who have not legally resided in Rhode Island for more than 6 months prior to applying for the license or permit. These hunters are eligible for a nonresident hunting license. Again, additional licenses and permits may apply to a specific set of game animals.
Note: Upon the request of a wildlife officer or other law enforcement officers, the Rhode Island law requires hunters to make available their hunting license or game animal or hunting gear or boats or vehicles for inspection. Failure to do so will attract punitive penalties. That is, either the hunter’s license is suspended or revoked.
Eligibility Requirements for a Rhode Island Hunting License
To be eligible for a Rhode Island Hunting License, applicants must either possess a previous Rhode Island Hunting license or Hunter Education Card (IHEA-USA approved).
An applicant without any of the above must enroll in a hunter education certification course.
**Exemptions to this rule are honorable discharge U.S. military personnel (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard) **
Hunting License via a Hunter Education Card
Rhode Island has no age restriction to enrolling in the hunter education course. All that is needed is a bit of maturity in terms of literacy skills.
Note: Rhode Island accepts certifications from all states or provinces in the U.S. that meet IHEA-USA (the International Hunter Education Association) requirements. Also, hunting certifications from some foreign countries (examples Mexico and Canada) are even accepted so long as the course meets official IHEA-USA requirements. Similarly, all U.S. states, provinces, and countries that have compulsory hunter education requirements accept the Rhode Island Hunter Education Certificate.
The Hunter Education Card is issued after you graduate from the Hunter Education Course. The entire program takes 10 hours to complete. Students must successfully pass a written exam before they can obtain the Hunter Education Certification Card. The online course is also open to nonresidents of Rhode Island.
To find out more about the fees and course structure of the Rhode Island Hunter education program, please click on this link. After securing the Hunter Education Certificate, hunters can proceed to apply for the hunting license.
How to get a Rhode Island Hunting License
The following are the three primary means of buying a Rhode Island Hunting license:
The first way involves registering and making the purchase online via the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s (DEM) website. The system allows you to swiftly have access to the system in order to conduct a host of transactions such as reprinting of lost or damaged license and permits, purchasing additional permits or renewing licenses in successive years. Online purchases can be made using a Discovery, MasterCard, Visa card or American Express.
The next relatively easy option is to apply for a license in-person at one of the many authorized dealers in Rhode Island. Hunters can search for the numerous sales outlets by clicking on this link to download a list of sales agents and their locations. These agents are often clerks and sporting goods stores littered across Rhode Island.
The final option requires the applicant to physically buy the license or permit from:
DEM Office of Boating Registration and License
235 Promenade St., Providence, RI 02908
In all the above options, a valid driver’s license or an official stat ID number are the typical pieces of information that has to be furnished by the applicant when buying a Rhode Island Hunting License. For youth or minors, a Birth Certificate, Passport or School ID Card can suffice as identification.
**It must be noted that buying a Rhode Island Hunting License from a vendor attracts a processing fee called Enhanced Access Fee (EAF). The fees differ for residents and nonresidents. See this link for more details**
Rhode Island Hunting Licenses are valid from the date of purchase through to the last day of February annually. The license year starts on 1 March.
**It must be noted that all license sales are often final. However, some request can be granted if made in person at the DEM office **
How much is a Rhode Island Hunting License/permit?
Resident and nonresident of Rhode Island hunting licenses attract different fees and application requirements. In cases of specific game species, hunters are obliged to buy additional permits and tags in order to hunt those species.
For more details pertaining to these license and permit fees, and their respective categories, please visit this link.
Places to Hunt in the State of Rhode Island
All in all, hunters can revel in a variety of game animals ranging from pheasant, turkey, deer, and waterfowl on both private and public properties in Rhode Island.
Public and DEM Locations
There are about 25 sites under the management of the DEM. This makes a total of 60,000 acres. Some examples are the Buck Hill Management Area, Arcadia Wildlife Management Area, and the George Washington Wildlife Management Area.
Buck Hill Management Area
Recently DEM incorporated the 20-acre Perry property at Burrillville into the Buck Hill Management Area. With that inclusion, the total acres of land at Arcadia has shot up to over 2100 acres. However, not all those acres are open to hunting. The usual mammals that abound in this area include white-tailed deer, cottontail rabbits, and furbearers such as muskrat, coyote, raccoon, and fox. Wild turkey, ring-necked pheasant, ruffed grouse, and waterfowl are some examples of game birds found in the Buck Hill enclave.
Arcadia Wildlife Management Area
This area has four major sub-divisions: Arcadia Northeast, Arcadia Northwest, Arcadia Southeast, and Arcadia Southwest. Together, all 4 reach a whopping 14,000 acres of land, the largest public management area in Rhode Island. Notable wildlife animals include cottontail rabbits and snowshoe hare, fox, raccoon, wild turkey, and pheasant. There are also bobwhite and a bit of songbird, amphibians, and raptors.
The Big River Management Area
This area comprises over 8,319 acres. The area consists of agricultural lands, wetlands and forest lands. There are also major streams flowing through this area-Nooseneck, Carr and Congdon Rivers. Common game animals are cottontail rabbits, white-tailed deer, gray squirrel, and furbearers. There are sizeable numbers of wild turkey, grouse, and waterfowl.
The Prudence (North and South) and Patience Island Area
With about 979 acres, 831 acres, and 213 acres respectively, all three areas are famous for white-tailed deer hunting as well as ring-necked pheasant, woodcock, and waterfowls. Click on this link to view hunting regulations pertaining to Prudence Island.
Black Hut Management Area
The area is notable for grey squirrel, white-tailed deer, fox raccoon, pheasants, waterfowl, and cottontail rabbits. It comprises 1,548 acres of forest, wetlands and agricultural lands.
George Washington Management Area
This area comprises 3,489 acres. The area has 2,569 acres of deciduous forest, 419 acres of evergreen forest, and about 439 acres of wetlands. The George Washington Area is ideal for mammals such as snowshoe hare, gray squirrel, and white-tailed deer. Some examples of game birds that can be found in this area are a wild turkey, ruffed grouse, and woodcock.
Private Lands and programs
The Department of Environmental Management, in partnership with some privately owned landowners, work tirelessly to meet the varied needs of hunters and trappers in Rhode Island. There are a number of Access Programs. In such cases, hunters are advised to get official permission from these private landowners before venturing into their properties. Hunters must properly acquaint themselves with the property’s ground rules and regulations.
General Hunting Regulations in Rhode Island
Here are some absolutely crucial and must-know hunting regulations in Rhode Island:
- Motorcycles are banned from all Rhode Island management areas except Arcadia Management Area. Similarly, hunting game animals with a motorized vehicle/aircraft is completely prohibited. However, disabled persons can secure disability permits that will allow them to use a motorized vehicle in a limited sense.
- Drones or remotely operated unmanned aircraft is prohibited.
- Deer scents and lure cannot be used to lure animals. Examples of such forbidden scents and luring materials are urine, gland oil, feces, tissue or blood.
- Hunting shall be from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. Click on this link to view the shooting hours for the various game animals in Rhode Island.
- The use of arrows with explosive heads or drugs or poison is not allowed.
- It is forbidden to have a loaded rifle or shotgun in or on vehicles.
- The pursuit of game animals along, upon or across a public highway is illegal.
- Lead shot bigger than No. 2 is forbidden. So are rifles larger than .22 caliber rimfire.
- It is very much illegal to discharge any firearm or archery device from outside into a public hunting area.
- Without permission, hunters cannot discharge a firearm within 550 feet of an occupied resident. Doing so with archery within 200 feet is also forbidden.
- All hunters must wear a fluorescent orange above their waist when hunting.
Note: The above were carefully drawn from the DEM hunting regulations. Readers must read that document thoroughly in order to avoid violating any Rhode Island laws.
Hunting Seasons in Rhode Island
The hunting seasons in Rhode Island change from year to year depending on the type of game and species. Below are the various hunting seasons for deer, migratory game bird, wild turkey and small game:
Deer Hunting Seasons
The seasons are the Archery and Muzzleloader seasons that run from the beginning of fall to early winter. There is also the Shotgun season and Combined Archery and Muzzleloader seasons that occur in winter. Rhode Island has a special season for disabled hunters that often takes place on Patience and Prudence Islands in mid-fall.
Wild Turkey Seasons
This game animal has three main seasons. They are the Fall Archery, Youth and Paraplegic, and the Spring Gobbler seasons. The Fall Archery season consists of a relatively short period in mid-fall. The Youth and Paraplegic season run for a very short period in spring. So does the Spring Gobbler. The bag limit for wild turkey is two per person.
Migratory Gamebird Seasons
The game birds available in Rhode Island are a crow, woodcock, Canada goose, sea ducks, brant, snipe, King/Clapper rail, Mourning dove, snow goose, ducks, merganser and coots. All these game birds are often hunted from late summer to early winter. There are varying dates for each individual migratory bird. For specific dates and bag limits pertaining to these game birds, please visit DEM’s website or consult the Rhode Island Hunting and Trapping Guide.
Small Game Seasons
Rhode Island has a number of small game ranging from coyote, pheasant, cottontail rabbit, raccoon, bobwhite quail, red and gray fox, ruffed grouse, and gray squirrel. The hunting dates for these game animals occur from early fall to the later part of winter. Pheasant hunters must have a game bird permit. And the bag limit for pheasants is 2 pheasants per person.
Youth Hunting Seasons
The major seasons here are Youth Deer Archery, Youth Deer Muzzleloader, Youth Waterfowl, Youth Pheasant and Youth turkey seasons. Deer Archery, Deer Muzzleloader, Waterfowl, and Pheasant occur from the beginning of fall all the way through to the mid of fall. Youth turkey often occurs in mid-spring. The Youth waterfowl and turkey seasons occur statewide.
Hunters between the ages of 12 to 14 must have a Rhode Island Youth Hunting license (Junior License). This group of hunters must at all times be in the company of a licensed adult hunter 21 years or above.
Those above 15 can have the Rhode resident hunting or nonresident license. Being in the company of an adult is not mandatory for these persons except when hunting waterfowl.
The law forbids the adult hunter from accompanying more than two youth hunters at a single time.
The Disabled Hunting Seasons
Hunters here require a hunting license. There are two main seasons here: Special Deer Season and the Paraplegic Hunter Turkey Seasons. The former occurs in the middle of fall. However, the later occurs in spring. These persons require assistance to be in their company. The hunters don’t need to be licensed. They are also forbidden from carrying firearms during the hung.
Hunters can visit this link to obtain all the information related to the specific season dates of the above game animals.
Hunting Guides and Outfitters in Rhode Island
Hunting is a very technical sport. And like any other sport, it requires a grave deal of expertise in order to achieve a good day’s hunt. In Rhode Island, there are a number of knowledgeable hunting guides and outfitters who do just that. Their operations are aimed at helping hunters get the best hunting experience in the state. The following is a list of such professional organizations:
- The Swampers Waterfowl Hunting
- Watch Hill Outfitters
- East Coast Guide Service
- Fin and Feather Outfitters
- Kettlebottom Outfitters
Accommodation for Hunters in Rhode Island
A very soothing and relaxing place is what every hunter requires after a long day of hunting. The reason behind this is that the body needs to recuperate. Below are some places that accommodate hunters in Rhode Island:
Tagging and reporting killed the game in Rhode Island
The newly launched online hunting and the fishing system are comprehensive enough to allow the conduction of a host of hunting transactions and documentation. One of those functions lets hunters report their harvest in a very convenient manner. Here are some of the steps that should be followed when tagging and reporting a game.
First of all, the game must be bagged then tagged appropriately using the hunter’s signed tag. The tag must remain fastened to the game at all times until it gets to the taxidermy.
Finally, hunters can report the game. They can use a smartphone to scan the QR on the permit. Then they proceed to the Harvest Report System. Alternatively, hunters can report their catch over the phone by calling the Division of Fish and Wildlife at (401) 789-0281. There are varying tagging and reporting specifications for deer, wild turkey, and small game animals. Click on the respective links above and follow the instructions.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. I have a Hunter Education certification from another U.S. State. I am a resident of Rhode Island. Will I be exempted from taking the Education course?
A. Yes. Rhode Island accepts hunter education certificate from any U.S. state. You will be eligible for a resident hunting license.
Q. I would like to hunt with a bow or some archery equipment. What license do I need?
A. First of all, you must have a Bowhunter Education Certificate. Subsequently, you can apply for the “Archery Only” license. But if you wish to hunt with firearms, you will need a Hunter education certificate and then a hunting license. Click on this link to view the online bowhunter education course.
Q. What is the minimum age to hunt in Rhode Island?
A. At the moment, the minimum age to hunt in Rhode Island is 12. Persons between the age of 12 and 14 can apply for a junior hunting license after completing the hunter education course. When hunting, the youth must always be in the company of an adult licensed hunter 21 or older. From the age of 15 onwards, adult supervision is not needed.
Q. I am 68 years old. What type of license would I be eligible for?
A. Rhode Island residents above 65 are eligible to apply for a permanent resident license (or permanent combination license). But if you are not a resident, then you can apply for the non-resident hunting license.
Rhode Island is not the biggest of states in the U.S. As a matter of fact, it is one of the most densely populated. However, what it lacks in area, it makes up for in wildlife content. The assiduous efforts of the Department of Environmental Management are paying off too. Over the past couple of years, the available acres for hunting have been gradually widened in a very sustainable and eco-friendly manner. Therefore, it’s our hope that the above information proves very useful in your hunting expeditions in Rhode Island. Relish in the beautiful wildlife and parks of this Ocean State.
Rhode Island, it’s for me!